by Rachel Felver
December 27, 2017
Nick DiPasquale, director of the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), thought he was simply attending his last Principals’ Staff Committee meeting on December 19 before planning to retire at the end of this year. As the meeting drew to a close, however, Secretary Ben Grumbles, Maryland Department of the Environment, and Secretary Mark Belton, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, walked to the front of the room and began to read a long list of DiPasquale’s numerous achievements; the meeting would close with the outgoing director being named the latest ‘Admiral of the Chesapeake.’
The Admiral of the Chesapeake is a lifetime achievement award, and the highest honor the governor of Maryland can bestow on an individual for their environmental contributions. It is awarded to those who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the conservation and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, its surrounding landscapes and the life that inhabits them.
Among DiPasquale’s most significant achievements is overseeing the development of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement in 2014. A crowning achievement, the agreement brings together nine signatories that represent the federal government, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the six states in the watershed and the District of Columbia working in alignment towards the conservation and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This Watershed Agreement looks at the whole Chesapeake Bay watershed ecosystem, not just water quality, and encourages actions that have multiple benefits across its ten goals and 31 outcomes. Three years later and thanks to the leadership of Nick DiPasquale, we are seeing positive efforts across the 64,000 square miles of the watershed, including thousands of miles opened for fish passage, upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, reductions in air deposition of nitrogen and more sites opened for public access. Signs of resiliency are more apparent with increases in the acreage of underwater grasses and species density and diversity, improving water clarity, thriving crab populations and seeing the many rivers that empty into the Bay trend in a positive direction for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution reduction.
Since his arrival in 2011, DiPasquale has also overseen the development of a citizen stewardship index and diversity profile, the technological advance of high-resolution land cover data which allows for a one meter by one meter resolution of the entire watershed, and the institution of a citizen monitoring effort that improves the likelihood of its use in regulatory and programmatic decisions. Technological, scientific or citizen-based, he has helped guide Chesapeake restoration into a well-rounded and more effective position as we strive towards 2025 goals. Always looking to the future, his efforts do not stop with current professionals, as he has also spent countless hours speaking at colleges and universities, encouraging the next generation in their conservation and restoration efforts.
No stranger to the environmental profession, DiPasquale spent nearly three decades in the public and private sectors as the deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, director of Environmental Management for the Brandywine Conservancy, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Ecological Control and senior consultant on environmental and ecological restoration issues with Duffield Associates. He also served as a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine reactor operator on the U.S.S. Stonewall Jackson, earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the State University of New York and a masters’ degree in Energy and Environmental Policy from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Even in retirement, DiPasquale promised he would continue to be a vocal champion of Chesapeake Bay issues. Now, he has the official designation to go along with it.